PETER BELL - Arthur Hugh Clough Poems


Poems » arthur hugh clough » peter bell


A satire upon the Poet Laureate's celebrated production.

Come, listen, my friend, Stephen Otter,
Pope and Dryden I mean to surpass
With a tale of a wonderful potter
And a very remarkable Ass.

For the potter his name it was Peter,
Sure some of you know Peter Bell,
But as for the Donkey poor creatur
What they called it I never could tell.

Some poets begin in the middle
And some by invoking a muse,
But that's only like tuning the fiddle
And in fact not of half so much use.

But you like to hear the beginning,
Of a Life all the ins and the outs,
And to go as far back as the pinning
Of the hero in swaddling clouts.

Of ancestry lineage and such like
Their lengthy narration to swell
Is a thing that Welch bards very much like --
Of what family came Peter Bell?

If his linaege was Saxon or Norman
Or Danish no annals record,
His father might perhaps be a Carman
He possibly might be a Lord.

A MOTHER most certainly had he,
An itinerant dealer in delf,
But she ne'er told him who was his daddie,
For she wasn't quite certain herself.

Howso'er his existence began near
A Hayrick,  for there he was whelp'd;
His cradle was nought but a pannier --
'Tis low but it cannot be help'd.

You have heard of those wonderful Minors
That were nursed by a Wolf, I dare say;
So had Peter an ass for his drynurse,
And she lull'd him to sleep with her bray.

Dame Nature will sometimes exhibit
Prophetical marks in the skin,
So Peter was mark'd with a gibbet,
The sign of original sin.

For Peter no mortal was sponsor,
For he never was christened, poor lamb;
So God-mother sure he had none, Sir,
Yet the first word he lisp'd was god dam,

Than Peter no lad cut be 'cuter
Yet he often had wanted a meal,
If the Tinker his travelling Tutor
Had not trained his young genius to steal.